; W c/J
TOLD IN -'THEIR OWN PECULIAR WAY"
BY a ONE OF THEM."
PUBLISHED AT THE
BUFFALO COURIER PRINTING HOUSE.
t— i O
TOLD IN -THEIR OWN PECULIAR WAY*'
BY "ONE OF THEM
PUBLISHED AT THB
BUFFALO COURIER PRINTING HOUSE.
Digitized by the Internet Archive
HISTORY OF THE
We are, indeed, a strange people, justly regarded
both by scientific and ordinary eyes as the great-
est natural curiosities the world has ever had sent
upon its surface. Physicians who have examined
us say our formation — or rather malformation — is
much more remarkable than the physical condi-
tion of the Siamese Twins.
We made our entree into this breathing world
in 1852. Our coming in such "questionable
shape' 1 created as great & furore in the cabin, as
our appearance has since, wherever we have been.
" Old Aunt Hannah," a faithful nurse, whose spe-
cialty was to be around and to discharge the first
hospitalities to new comers of our complexion,
couldn't for u de life or soul of her" tell whether
we was a " young nigger" or " something else."
But the "something else" soon gave unmistakable
evidences that it could viva voce intimate a desire
for maternal comforts, just as well as the best
developed young African on the premises. So
our mother and the rest of the family came to the
conclusion that "a child was born."
Our parents were named Jacob and Menemia,
and at the time of our birth were part of the
family of a Mr. McCoy. Shortly afterwards we
and our parents 'changed owners, and were taken
to Anson county, North Carolina. There we be-
come separated from our parents, and after a
few more transfers in the way of ownership, be-
came the property of Mr. James P. Smith, who
gave for us, two strange lumps of humanity, the
sum of $6,000. He, with a goodness of heart,
which in after life developed itself in more ways
than one towards us, ascertained where our pa-
rents were, went to their owners, purchased them,
and all our little brothers and sisters, thus bring-
ing a long separated family together, and the mak-
ing of more than one heart rejoice in gladness.
When we were infants, not much more than
fifteen months old, Mr. Smith yielding to the
advice of a number of his friends and well wishers,
made arrangements for starting upon an exhibi-
tion tour through the Gulf States, intending to
show us at all the principal cities and towns. Our
local fame was communicated to the press gener-
ally throughout the South, and soon the "South
Carolina Twins," or "double headed girl," be-
came a magnet of attraction to the lovers of the
curious in nature.
Perhaps it would not be improper to remark
here, en passant, that Mr. Smith was not in those
days a practical "showman," but being a "South-
ern gentleman from the country," was very liable
to be imposed upon. A speculator, one of those
"smart" men, ever ready to take all undue advan-
tage of his fellow man, came to Mr. Smith at New
Orleans, and made a proposition to become our
exhibitor. This man had a persuasive address,
spoke as one having authority, and great influ-
ence with the "press and the public," so the con-
sequences were Mr. Smith hired the fellow to
exhibit us, rather to "put us properly before the
public/ 1 The man was to get a per centage of
the receipts, Mr. S. to bear all the expenses. For
a while things worked agreeably, until one day
Mr, S. was called to his home in North Carolina
to attend to some pressing business. Taking ad-
vantage of the absence of our kind master and
guardian, the man absolutely kidnapped us, stole
us from our mother, and bore us far away from
friends, kindred, or any one who had a rigid to
feel an interest in us. The man who took us away
could not, or rather did not dare to publicly
exhibit us, but gave private exhibitiors to scien-
tific bodies, thus reaping quite a handsome income
off of "two little black girls'' whom he had
Finally, when we had been thus dragged over
the country for nearly two years, the one who had
surreptitiously became our custodian, disposed of
us to another speculator, who was unacquainted
with the fact that we were originally and then the
legal property of Mr. Smith. He took us to
Philadelphia and placed us in a small Museum in
Chestnut street, near Sixth, then under the manage-
ment of Col. Wood, who is, we believe, somewhat
known as a showman.
While there, a party saw us, and hearing that
we were born South, came to the conclusion to
get possession of us. He went to the authorities
and said we were slaves, brought into a free
State, where we were unjustly deprived of our
liberty. He prayed the Court to exercise juris-
diction in the premises, take us away from the
party who held us, and to appoint a guardian for
us. This dodge did not work well, for the man
who had us spirited us away before the necessary
papers could be served, and in a few hours we
were upon the basins of the broad Atlantic en route
By this time Mr. Smith had gained tidings of
us, and in company with his Attorney, Luke
Blackmar, Esq., of Salisbury, and a friend, J.
Vestal, Esq., came North to reclaim us. He and
his friends arrived in the city of New York the
day after the Baltic sailed with us. Friends who
took an interest in Mr. Smith's misfortunes, told
him that all attempts to claim us as his property
would prove futile in England ; but that no one
could restrain us, provided our parents claimed us
as then infant children. Quick as thought he
acted upon the suggestion, started for our home
in the " Old North State," got our mother Mene-
mia, and was soon en route for "Merrie England,"
where he and our mother shortly arrived in safety.
Mr. Smith was not long in discovering our
whereabouts. The fact of our being in England
was soon known, as the parties who had carried
us there thought that they could, any where out
of the United States, show us with impunity.
They influenced a colored woman, under the
promise of a rich reward, to testify upon oath that
she was our mother ; but the woman, anticipating
the enormity of the crime, ran away ; not until,
however, she had received in advance a portion
of the wages of sin. Another woman yielded to
the temptation of gold, and did in open court
perjure her soul, and swear that she had given us
birth. But her carefully told and well rehearsed
lie would not stand the close scrutiny of the Min-
isters of Law, who listened to the plain and well-
told narrative of our mother, who evinced a moth-
er's tenderness for us, her little deformities, and
imparted a pathos to those utterances when she,
in a natural unassuming way, begged for the cus-
tody of her children, from whom she had so long
been separated, but from whom she could never
feel estranged. The law vindicated itself, and
gave us to our mother.
As soon as the decision was made manifest, then
those who had stolen us the last time endeavored
to prevail upon our mother to hire us to them,
offering her a large sum to allow us to travel over
the country, and to go upon the continent. This
she refused to accede to, until some outside par-
ties succeeded in inducing Mr. Smith to consent
to some co-partnership arrangement, by which
both he and us would be the recipients of fine re-
ceipts, Mr. S. then consented to mother's signing
a three years 1 agreement, the effects of which we
need not here give. But, suffice it to say, that
soon the cloven foot of the man who wanted us,
showed itself; he tried to vitiate the contract, so
as to get things his own way, and thus deprive us
of our rights. He abused our mother, and ap-
plied the most revolting epithets. He threatened
the life of Mr. Smith, and refused to allow us to
receive the attention and luxuries which children
of tender age require. Our mother got afraid,
and begged our good master to assist her and us
children to reach the shores of our own beloved
America. He yielded to her prayers and entreat-
ies, and determined to set us free from a bondage
so repulsive. Becoming familiar with the running
time of all the railway trains, and becoming cog-
nizant of the exact time when the steamer would
leave her dock at Liverpool, he made all arrange-
ments for a speedy departure. Getting a trusty
cabman to come to our lodgings, where all our
things were in readiness, we were at the depot in
London before any one surmised our intentions.
The steam cars moved, and after' a rapid journey
(for steam cars do travel in England) we arrived
at the Americanized city of Liverpool just half an
hour before the steamer Atlantic was ready to
leave her docks.
With grateful hearts we turned our backs upon
Albion's shore, not but that the people treated us
well enough, and would have paid liberally to
have seen us ; still, we had enemies there who we
thought would injure our master and protector,
and act in bad faith toward us.
There are many things of interest we missed
seeing in England, on account of the brief time
we had to stay there. Perhaps, now, that we are
u grown up girls," and like the rest of the sex,
with tongues, and a knowledge of their use, we
may go across the water once more. A gentle-
man who called to see us when we were on exhi-
bition in Baltimore, told us that the ''double
headed girl" was often inquired after, and that he
thought we would prove a " good card" there.
At present our business relations are such that we
feel in duty bound to stay at home.
We might, could we feel disposed, tell many
anecdotes of our travels, but we think a simple
narative of ourselves is all that at present those of
our patrons who buy our little book will require.
But our visit to the Queen and the Royal Fam-
ily at " Osbourne House," we shall never forget.
Her Majesty had, " signified her pleasure" to have
us brought before her. Our good mother wrap-
ped us up in real southern style to shield us from
the heavy fogs of London. We nor she did not
comprehend the glory of the errand we w r ere bent
upon, only she knew that a grand and good lady
wanted to see us. When we arrived, the pomp
and circumstances of the surroundings dazzled our
young eyes, and w r e wondered what was to be
done with us. But we can say that " Victoria
was a woman" for she talked tenderly to us, and
to our mother, and when we left we bore away
abundant tokens of her good feeling and queenly
liberality. A great many artists boast of having
been before the Queen. Perhaps they have, and
employed great diplomacy to get there. But
with us the case was different. Poor little mon-
strosities, and black babies at that; we were sent
for, and that without any influence at court to
gain for us a Royal summons.
When we arrived home again at New York, Mr.
Smith took us under his cloak and carried us on
the Ferry Boat to Jersey City, where he got us on
the cars and never stopped until we reached the
Monumental City, where we felt safe from pursuit.
There we rested for a few days under the hos-
pitable roof of Barnum's Hotel and then left for
our own dear home. It was a joyous night when
we arrived there and found our "white ma," Mrs.
Smith, waiting to secure us. Of course we then
did not appreciate her worth for we were babies
when we left her ; but we soon learned to regard
her with the most tender feelings. She taught us
our first precepts of religion, and assumed the
duties of preceptress, our ideas of a Deity were
very imperfect. We had heard the Supreme
Being alluded to, but not in tones of love and rev-
erence, but to give force to some angry expression.
She gradually imparted to us such ideas as our
crude minds could comprehend, until such times
as we could begin to understand the fundamental
principles of the doctrine of the established church
of England. Now, although we do not wish to
speak Pharisaical, we think we can safely call our-
selves really Christian children. Mrs. S. instruct?
ed us to read and write, to sing and dance, and
thus while being able to enjoy ourselves, and to
employ our time usefully, to contribute in no
small degree to the amusement of those who called
to see us.
In I860 we were in New Orleans when the
domestic political troubles commenced. Mr. Smith,
who had heavy responsibilities resting upon him,
was obliged to withdraw us from public life and
take us home. Shortly after that, he was taken
ill, and after a few weeks' suffering died, leaving
his widow to look after his people and the estate.
We were old enongh then to mourn the loss of
our good master, who seemed to us as a father,
and we here would render a grateful tribute to his
memory, by saying that he was urbane, generous,
kind, patient-bearing, and beloved by all. We
trust, in fact believe, that he has gone to that
heaven we have heard him so often describe to
us, when he would impress upon our minds the
necessity of leading a good life in the hope of
gaining a blessed immortality hereafter.
Master had always been liberal to others, and
had, upon frequent occasions, lost heavily in busi-
ness transactions. These circumstances and the
results of the war, left us and his widow and chil-
dren to a certain extent in straightened circum-
stances. The only alternative was for us to again
go upon exhibition, and by our humble efforts
contribute to the happiness and comforts of the
surviving members of our late master's family.
We are interested pecuniarily in the " show," and
are daily receiving and putting away our share of
the proceeds. None can mistake our determina-
tion in remaining under the guardianship of Mrs.
Smith. Our object is t wo -fold : We can trust
Iter, and what is more, we feel grateful to her and
regard her with true filial affection. We will not
go with any one else ; where she goes there will
we go ; where she tarries there will we halt. We
shall endeavor to imitate that deep devotion which
Ruth evinced toward Naomi.
Having thus spoken of ourselves and given you
a very plain, and perhaps, a very uninteresting
autobiography, we will give you a few extracts
from letters and opinions which have been uttered
and expressed relative to us :
The editor of the Louisville Journal said, " The
exhibition of these remarkable twins is character-
ized by the peculiar delicacy, modesty and ingen-
iousness of these young girls themselves. Nothing
occurs nor can occur offensive to the most fasti-
dious sense of propriety, or refined taste." Mr.
Prentice, we have always heard, could say pleas-
ant as well as very witty and cunning things. We
thank him for the handsome manner in which he
has thought proper to speak of us.
" Brick Pomeroy," of the LaCrosse Democrat,
came to one of our levees last winter, and shortly
after our secretary received a paper from Wiscon-
sin which contained the subjoined : " We have
seen the Carolina Twins, or the ' Double-headed
Girl' as they are styled on the bills. We can in
truth say we were pleased with them, particularly
with the manner in which they conversed. They
are not impudent, but they are not foolishly retir-
ing. They sing well, in fact excellent ; and dance
divinely, considering the manner in which their
limbs and body are constructed. They know
they are a curiosity, and feel anxious that the
public should appreciate their attractiveness*
We have no hesitation in declaring them to be
the most extraordinary exhibition of a peculiar
and "indissoluble union" we have ever witnes-
sed. The Siamese twins in the way of strange
formation cannot bear any comparison to them."
That editor fully knows how we feel in regard
to the public. We wished to be viewed as some-
thing entirely void of humbug — a living curiosity
— not a sham gotten up to impose upon and de-
ceive the people. We are indeed a strange freak
of Nature, and upon the success of our exhibition
does our happiness and the well doing of others
depend. We have been examined most scrutiniz-
ingly by too many medical men to be regarded as
humbugs by any one. Still there are many per-
sons who will not believe anything, no matter how
strong the facts may be presented to them. If
there be any such who have been to see us, and
into whose hands this little book of ours may
chance to fall, we beg most respectfully to offer
them some medical testimony of a most positive
and unmistakable character.
Philadelphia, May 30th, 1866.
Mrs. James P. Smith:
Madam : — A number of medical gentlemen hav-
ing been invited to examine the North Carolina
Twins now upon exhibition at the Assembly Build-
ings, say they found a thorough fusion of the
lower portion of the trunk, osseous and fleshy ;
the two spinal columns uniting together at the
base, forming but one large bone common to both.
The limbs and upper part of each trunk and
the heads are perfectly separate, as though belong-
ing to a distinct individuality, forming the most
interesting monstrosity, morally and physically
considered, on record. Among the gentlemen
who are willing to allow their names to appear
and give tone to the above statements are :
Dr. S. H. Dickson,
Professor Practice of Medicine, Jefferson Medical College.
Dr. Ellersiie Wallace,
Professor of Obstetrics, Jefferson Medical College.
Dr. John B. Bidde,
Professor Materia Medica, Jefferson Medical College.
Dr. J. Aitkin Meigs,
Lecturer Summer School.
Dr. William H. Pancoast,
Demonstrator of Anatomy and Lecturer Summer School.
00 . '
All these* gentlemen are well known, not only
in Philadelphia, but throughout a great portion of
the country, and it is not at all probable that they
could be deceived, and it is still more unlikely
that they would lend their countenance to an im-
Although we speak of ourselves in the plural,
we feel as but one person; in fact as such we have
ever been regarded, although we bear the names
Millie and Christina. One thing is certain, we
would not wish to be severed, even if science
could effect a separation. We are contented with
our lot, and are happy as the day is long. We
have but one heart, one feeling in common, one
desire, one purpose.
The song we sing, we have so often been re-
quested to give copies of, that we have concluded
to insert it in our book. We must admit that, as
a literary production, it has not much merit, but
it conveys a good idea of our feelings.
It's not modest of one's self to speak.
But daily scanned from head to feet
I freely talk of everything —
Sometimes to persons wondering.
Some persons say I must be two,
The doctors say this is not true ;
Some cry out humbug, till they sec,
When they say, great mystery !
Two heads, four arms, four feet,
All in one perfect body meet;
I am most wonderfully made.
All scientific men have said.
None like me, since days of Eve,
None such perhaps will ever live,
A marvel to myself am I,
As well to all who passes by.
I'm happy, quite, beeause I'm good ;
I love my Savior and my God. ,
I love all things that God has done,
Whether I'm created two or one.
Those who are in attendance upon us can, per-
haps, give the public some information that we
have overlooked. Hoping our little book will be
found well worth the money, we conclude our
plain unvarnished tale.